Does Africa Need Managers?

Rapid economic growth, rich stores of natural resources and a fast-growing population have all helped to usher in a new era of optimism around Africa’s future.  But according to the African Management Initiative (AMI), there’s a missing link that is preventing the continent’s economies from reaching their business potential and achieving their development goals.

One Million Managers Needed

AMI, a not-for-profit group based in Johannesburg, points to an acute shortage of high-quality, well-trained local managers.  Africa has only about 90 institutions offering an MBA (compared to more than 1,500 in India).

AMI aims to foster one million skilled African managers over the next 10 years.  It has launched a series of initiatives designed to expand access to key education tools, including a virtual campus tailored specifically for African managers and entrepreneurs.  It plans to leverage technology to deliver high-quality, practical and relevant management education at a price that people can afford, combining online content with offline peer support.  On 17 June 2013, AMI began to pilot a two-week course where participants access free web-based tutorials to sharpen their management skills.  The “Launchpad: Success@Work in 21st Century Africa” module, which will have low-bandwidth requirements and be available on mobile phones, will cover topics such as effective communication, goal setting and time management.

AMI wants to eventually develop Africa’s first full-scale open online course, in conjunction with three of Africa’s leading business schools – Nigeria’s Lagos Business School, Kenya’s Strathmore Business School and South Africa’s Gordon Institute of Business Science.

The article is available on CNN.

Do We Need More Managers?

I have been involved in helping African entrepreneurs through the Grow Movement and am interested in how business can have a positive impact by providing jobs, income and improvement to people’s standard of living.  This article highlights an often overlooked step.  Effective management is generally required for an idea to progress from a start-up to a successful small business.  And it isn’t start-ups that make money and create jobs – it’s small businesses.

It is great to see that AMI is an African initiative and is working to train people locally.  It’s also great to see thinking beyond the traditional business school, and an approach that incorporates mobile technology (which is so prevalent in Africa) and the social aspect of peer support.

I read recently that our world is moving from a need for management (which assumes a constant environment) to a need for leadership (which assumes change).  This may be the case in developed countries, but I can easily see how a lack of business and management training could hold back African small business.

Do you think the world needs more managers?  What skills are needed to grow small businesses?

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